Dr Russell - Japan Earthquake - 19th March 2011
Moved to the hangar where we were processed through a customs desk and then waited a few hours before boarding the DFID chartered flight with Swiss and German rescuers, about 15 dogs, and several civilians. With the aircraft no doubt near its limit for weight, it was nice to get 'wheels up' and on our way home.
This has been different to New Zealand. Again, it feels like we have done something useful, at least searching thoroughly to confirm no survivors were waiting to be rescued in our areas. There was potential, with the Chinese team finding two people alive during our first two days there. The devastation was immense. In New Zealand we were targeted to a specific large building where there were known to be 10-20 people definitely trapped. In Japan we had much larger areas to cover, with no certainty about what we might find. The search had to be less intense at each location but very systematic and still thorough.
It was a pleasure to work with the ISAR technicians who are amongst the best in the world and it was a very positive experience, touching briefly the honourable and resilient Japanese culture and people of all ages who politely bowed and thanked us wherever we went. I left feeling a tremendous respect for the Japanese and a hope that this on-going disaster is rapidly drawn to a close. Another beautiful place I'd love to visit when it's back on its feet. Good luck, Japan.